Living with a reactive dog is hard! No one's going to argue with that. What folks may argue about though is how to actually fix the problem. Some dog trainers and people may choose to dive right in there and work on exposing their dog to others with a view to helping them get over their emotional outbursts. Others may put a muzzle on the dog and just live with it or perhaps give their dog a calming pill. Others may work on a carefully thought through training programme to gradually expose the dog to dogs (or people), perhaps even with the help of another calm dog whose non-reactivity may help to reach the reactive dog to become calm.
So, where am I on all of this debate?
The thing is that many times simply changing anything will help. Sometimes Adaptils or herbals or a pill from the vet is enough to help the dog to calm just a little bit and then be able to cope. Sometimes walking with a calm dog or working on training with a calm dog works - sometimes the reactive dog is able to pick up signals from the helper dog. Sometimes ongoing exposure, persisting with a barky dog in a class works, over time, to help them to stop barking.
But what if it doesn't work?
This is where holistic behaviour therapy comes in to play. In my experience, we tend to focus on the most serious problem. The one that's right in front of us. We don't however tend to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We don't tend to consider what's going on in the dog's brain on a day to day basis and take in to account ALL of the factors contributing to the reactivity. We may even be so stressed with the problem ourselves that we simply can't see straight.
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